Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Royal Temples and the Three R's

OK, I lied. I thought I would create 2-3 posts from the Mekong River cruise and be done. But once I started looking at the pics I took on my mobile phone - still haven't downloaded the better pics from the camera - I realised I wanted to document this a bit more properly and extensively.

Today's post focuses on the Imperial Palace and a visit to a village in the countryside, in addition to a Buddhist compound on the top of a hill where we received a water blessing and visited a local school. Best part of the palace tour, hands down, was my cyclo driver. He spoke very limited English, so I did a lot of smiling and head nodding when I didn't catch it the second time I asked for a repeat. I distinctly heard the names Clinton, Trump and Obama, so it appears this guy keeps up with US politics. He chattered on and on about Trump, so I figured he either loves or hates the guy. Which mirrors how most Americans feel these days. 

Above is a pic of the obligatory temple/ruins cat we always notice on our travels. Below is a restored fresco on an exterior wall. And beneath that is a royal stupa, aka Cambodian mausoleum.

Here is a little side story I gotta share. When Mr Cyclopedaler asked me where I was from, I responded Texas and he got very animated. It seems he has some family living in Port Arthur, part of the Golden Triangle of Southeast Texas where I grew up. It's a popular area where Vietnamese and Cambodian fisherman have settled. More proof it is indeed a small world. Although we were told the river cruise company would be tipping all of the cyclo men, I gave him a nice tip because he was so entertaining. He broke out in a big old grin and shouted "God Bless America!" as I walked back to board the boat.

In the afternoon, we visited a Buddhist temple sitting atop a hill where we visited some local school children at class after receiving a water blessing from the monks.

The colourful and intricate architecture was incredible. All of us cruisers had purchased school supplies that we gave to the children after they practiced reading in English to us. Their school has only 1.5 solid walls - the rest was chain link fence to keep the critters out - but you could tell education is a priority. Many of the kids were asked what they want to be when they grow up and at least half of them said teacher since they're highly respected professionals in this culture. Another popular response was tour director. Seriously - our tour director on the cruise was AMAZING. Phiem was well spoken, solicitous and knowledgeable. He went out of his way to make sure we had a wonderful cruise experience.

Finally, I want to add a pic of my travel heroes. About half of the 24 folks on our cruise were from New Zealand, just like Gill and Bruce you see in the pic below. He's 87 and she's 84. They've traveled all over the world and are still making plans to see more. I want the husband and I to aspire to be just like Gill and Bruce when we retire. Do some touring, then come back to the boat for a G&T followed by a nap. That's the way to do it, I'm thinking.

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